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The Santa Fe Opera

Santa Fe, NM

Program

2,166-seat opera theater, entry plaza, balcony-level bar, mezzanine, restrooms, terraces

Culminating the architects’ ten-year involvement with the Opera, the design for this open-air theater delicately balances the preservation of opera-goers’ memories with the creation of a technically-sophisticated and enlarged opera hall. The roof’s waved form is the design’s signature element. Suspended from a skeletal structure of white steel masts and tension rods, it subtly echoes the profiles of the surrounding mountains and evokes the character of the tents associated with iterant festivals appropriate to the opera’s origins and its short summer season. The orchestra and balcony roofs act as giant acoustical reflectors that parallel the movement of sound outward from the stage and toward the seating below. A unique structural approach was developed to rest the new roof, which is both larger and heavier than the previous one, on the original columns that frame the stage. A system of eight steel masts and twenty-six tension rods, which minimizes the bulk of the roof, carries its dead load of 435 tons onto the reinforced original columns. A new balcony structure echoes the sweeping form of the main roof and its cantilevered structure provides unobstructed sight lines. Steel wind splinter rails along the roof edges and wind baffles along the north side of the theater diffuse the strongest winds and decrease weather-related distractions during performances.

75,000 sq. ft.
1998